Important features to look for when researching new finance and accounting software

Organisations can’t function without being able to take payments, understand cash flows, or pay staff. 

The advent of finance and accounting software has made it easier and, in most cases, cheaper than ever before to be able to adopt class-leading platforms to easily bring all of a businesses money matters into one place. 

But if you’re in the market for a new software provider, either to modernise your current technology stack, or in search of new required features, it can be difficult to know where to start when assessing the market. 

What functionality is a must-have? What future legislative changes does your chosen platform need to be compliant with? And what are the hallmarks of a well-run, regularly-maintained, and constantly-evolving software solution?

If you’re not sure whether or not your existing accounting software needs replacing, then take a quick glance at our article on the five signs you might need to upgrade your finance system here.

If you are ready to start scouring the market for a new solution, then here are just some of the key considerations you should be making before turning that free trial into a paid plan – or even booking that demo call in the first place.

A cloud-based solution

Accessibility and security are two of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to accounting and finance software. 

Can permitted users access the information they need, anytime and any place, in a completely secure way? 

Cloud-based software solutions are pretty much a given now and the default choice for the vast majority of organisations, large or small. Key functionality to look out for though includes tiered access levels, as well as different additional sign-in security measures such as single sign-on and forced logouts. 

Stacked features pipeline

The software you’re considering might look good now, but will it still be up to the task in six months time? 

Functionality requirements change quickly in the finance and accounting space, especially as employment legislation and regulations change. 

To assess whether or not your chosen accounting platform will grow as your organisation does, it’s worth assessing their current features pipeline – or, if that’s not evident, the rate of updates over the last year. 

This will give you some insight into the in-house technical capability of the platform provider. If there have been plenty of great new features launched in the last 12 months, and exciting new products on the horizon, then that’s a solution that will likely get better as time moves on. 

If there have been limited to no recent feature releases or updates, and if the platform UI looks like something more befitting the Apollo mission than a modern company, then consider why that might be the case.

AI and automation 

Great business technology is adopting AI and automation to help users do more, more accurately, in less time. 

This should be a critical consideration when adopting any new platform, especially within finance, to ensure that errors are reduced and productivity increases – both of which help form the main building blocks of your business case for investment in any new platform.

Real-time analytics

Knowing what happened last year is great, but understanding how the organisation is functioning from a financial perspective right now is critical. 

Real-time analytics are a core function of the best finance and accounting platforms available today and generate easy-to-digest dashboards which can be customisable to show you the data that matters most. 

Read more: How Real-Time Financial Data Can Benefit Your Business

Easy access to comprehensive real-time data not only improves productivity, but it also enhances decision-making by using the most up-to-date information available to you. Paired with the anytime, anywhere access that a cloud-based solution gives, this means an organisation can make strategic decisions in confidence without delay. 

Data integration 

Most organisations need to be able to centralise data from numerous otherwise siloed streams to help get a truer picture of the overall financial well-being of the business. 

The best finance software will include one-click integrations with some of the most-used business platforms around, from project management and time-recording solutions, to your various sources of revenue.

With data integration built in, your organisation can develop a single source of truth – one platform which shows how the entirety of the organisation’s finances work, making analytics and forecasting more accessible with increased accuracy too. 

Great support reviews 

However easy a platform looks to use, at some point you will likely need a bit of support from their accounts or technical teams. 

The best SaaS providers invest heavily in their support teams to ensure customers are getting the best experience possible and things run smoothly too. 

A little bit of research into the support reviews that your identified software provider has received over the last 6-12 months will give as clear an indication as any as to how responsive they will likely be if your teams need some help in the future too. 

Clear audit trails

Finally, you wouldn’t want to adopt a piece of finance and accounting software that couldn’t carry out one of the most important tasks assigned to these departments – auditing. 

Traditionally one of the most time-consuming practices within business finance, the best finance platforms include simplified auditing features with a complete documented trail of transactions and approvals to help stay on the right side of any HMRC audit and compliance legislation.

Find and adopt the right finance software at the first time of asking

Knowing that you need to update your existing finance solution is one thing. Scouring the market to find a solution that has all the features you need, plus the identifiers that mark it out to be a trusted supplier… AND then integrating that platform into your organisation with limited downtime, can be a daunting prospect. 

At Phase 3, our award-winning teams have helped hundreds of organisations just like yours to plan, adopt, and integrate a new finance and accounting solution into their business. 

Starting with our system selection process, we work to understand all the features you require of a new accounting platform both now and into the future too. 

Then, our finance implementation service team can manage the entire adoption process for you, from technical implementation and data migration, through to quality assurance and ongoing testing support. 

Learn more about how we can help implement your new finance system here.

Assad Ahmed image
Written by : Assad Ahmed

Assad founded Phase 3 in 2004 and is responsible for the strategy, growth and finances of the business.

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